Los Angeles movie theaters fail to get green light to reopen

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles County officials said on Wednesday that movie and TV production could resume on Friday, but movie theaters in the biggest market in the United States must remain closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

California state officials said earlier this week that movie theaters could reopen as early as Friday, pending approval from local officials, with attendance capped at 25% of capacity and other hygiene and social-distancing protocols.

Movie theaters closed their doors around the world in mid-March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, and movie and television production also ground to a halt.

In a press release on Wednesday, Los Angeles County said that while day camps, museums, hotels and gyms could reopen as soon as Friday, movie theaters would remain closed.

Officials did not say why. They announced 61 new deaths from coronavirus in the county, bringing the total to 2,768 deaths and 67,064 positive cases.

Television and film production, much of it centered in the Los Angeles area, can restart under guidelines drawn up by an industry-wide task force. They include extensive coronavirus testing and daily symptom checks for actors and crew members.

Despite the green light, production on most Hollywood films and television shows is not expected to resume until September.

Hollywood movie studios have been hoping that enough theaters will be open to hold a late-summer blockbuster season. AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros. currently plans to release Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” on July 17, and Walt Disney Co aims to debut the action movie “Mulan” on July 24.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the world’s largest movie theater operator, said on Tuesday it was expecting to reopen almost all its U.S. and UK theaters in time to showcase the two movies.

Cinemark Holdings Inc plans to open five theaters in Texas on June 19 to test new safety procedures. Cineworld Group Plc owner of Regal Cinemas in the United States, said it believes all of its theaters will reopen in July.

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